Helping College Students Grow Their Faith.

Campus Ministry

The Top 3 Tools For a New Campus Minister

Sarah Harmon
Written By Sarah Harmon
On Jun, 4 2024
9 minute read

Close your eyes (metaphorically…since you’re reading…) and picture this:

Opening Scene (August 1, 2024): 

You’ve been hired as a new College Campus Minister. You’re walking towards the front doors on your first day of work with a special hop in your step. The happiest soundtrack of your life is playing in the background. You’re thinking, 

“This. Is. AWESOME!! My college years were so impactful! My campus minister was the most fun and loving person I had ever met! I loved our Newman Center! The other students were so awesome. I remember going to Mass, hearing great talks, having adoration…all the things! What a dream job! I can’t wait to start loving these students and seeing their hearts transform!!”


Scene 2 (September 1, 2024):

Tragic, dramatic music suddenly ensues as the camera zooms in on your face, which says without words:

“OH. MY. GOSH. What did I get myself into?!?! I have no idea what I’m doing! How do I have time for everything?! Why is there so much PAPERWORK?!?!”


Dream vs Reality


Unfortunately, the above scene is fairly common in college campus ministries. We all know the impact a vibrant campus ministry can have, but if you’re a new campus minister, how can you create that? You likely feel like you’ve been given this:

all by myself gif

And asked to create this:

giphy (1)

…by the end of the month…


Overwhelming? Just a tad! Discouraging? Could be…but we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be! 

Your campus ministry might be you and three students. Or it might be a thriving ministry of thousands, built up for the past century that you only have to maintain. Either way, we want to tell you: deeper impact can still happen, more hearts can be changed, and you can grow holy and keep your sanity in the process!

We’ve compiled the three essential tools you’ll need to achieve the deeper impact every campus minister desires to make, so read on!


The Campus Minister’s Toolbox


Tool #1: Prayer

We’ll never grow tired of repeating this! (And we think we’re in good company) Hearts cannot be transformed without prayer! Prayer in and for our ministry, but mostly, our own deep commitment to a personal prayer life. 

We cannot underestimate the power of our witness for our students. 

As Pope Paul VI stated in 1974, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” Be a witness of fidelity to prayer! Your students will notice the fruits of the Spirit in your life, which stem from prayer and cannot be faked. They notice what is genuine.

Showing your students prayer is not only possible but necessary in both busy and calm seasons. Learn the voice of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Become a man or woman of prayer, and the fruit will be seen in your ministries.

Remember: before anything God wants you to do, He just wants you. Let prayer become the foundation of your ministry, and fruitfulness will follow. Or, in other words, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be given to you.” (Mt 6:33)


Tool #2: Self-Knowledge

Often, we can step into a ministry role, and find we are comparing ourselves to other campus ministers, FOCUS missionaries, Catholic speakers, or famous priests. We often focus so much on how we are unlike these people, that we fail to notice our own unique gifts and offerings.

What if we allowed admiration and praise to be our guiding principles for seeing others? “Wow, God! Thank you for his gifts! You made him so uniquely!”

And then, what if we allowed admiration and praise to be our guiding principle for seeing ourselves? What if we invested time and energy into discovering and naming our own unique qualities?

What if, instead of saying something like, “Ugh, I just can’t get in front of a crowd like Shane…” we admired both Shane and our own unique offerings: “Thank you, God, that Shane and I work together! He works the crowd, and I get to focus on one-on-one conversations. Thank you for making me for these intimate conversations!”

To grow in our self-knowledge, we don’t have a ‘manual’ that our parents got at the hospital. No, “I am a mystery unto myself!” (cf Rom 7:15) We get to discover ourselves through self-reflection, experience, and life. To be human is to live, learn, and grow. St. John Henry Newman said, “Growth is the only evidence of life.” So strive to grow in awareness of your unique and unrepeatable offerings! What kind of campus minister have YOU been created to be?

Here are some great places to start: 

  1. Unrepeatable by Josh Miller and Luke Burgis
  2. Temperament Test (free)
  3. Temperament Quadrant (quick cheatsheet!)
  4. Strengthsfinder (small fee, but very insightful!)


Tool #3: Time Management

Often, we find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed because we think there’s too much to do, and not enough hours in the day to do it! 

We’d like to challenge this belief.

There are others in ministry or other professional roles who have the same amount of hours in the day. How do they get it all done??? They’ve found a system that works for them, and they’ve taken charge of their schedule, their day, their week, and their life.

Things will always crop up unexpectedly, and pivoting is a must. However, keeping the “pivots” as exceptions and “planning” as the rule can save us time, energy, and sanity. Above all, it safeguards our peace, allowing us to be a calm presence to those in our care.

What system is best for YOU? The answer to this question must stem from the self-knowledge that you’ve just committed to! Discovering what works for you from the variety of tools out there is key. Give a new system a solid 3-weeks of trying it out before dismissing it. Your brain is forming new neural pathways anytime you learn something new, so give yourself some grace as you adjust!


Helpful Systems to Start With

Create a Daily Schedule 

Take five minutes at the start of each day to fill in a rough outline of your day. Include time blocking for meetings or other tasks, to-do’s you don’t want to forget, and prioritize the TOP THREE things you want to have done by the time you fall asleep. It should take no more than 5 minutes to write it all out, but the direction it gives your day is priceless!

Here’s a free template you can download and use. >>>


Track your ACTUAL Week

Use the template below and write out where your time actually goes. This is for your eyes only, so be brutally honest! Don’t change anything, just write it out and at the end of the week, add up the amount of time spent in different areas. Do you like your trends? Anything you want to keep or change?

Here’s the free template you can download and use. >>>


Write out your IDEAL Week

An ideal is just that: an ideal, not necessarily 100% realistic. It’s like the horizon - you’ll never reach it, but it orients you in the correct direction. After looking at your Actual Week, write out what you would LIKE your week to look like. Schedule the big commitments first (prayer, work, set meetings, etc) then fill in moveable or less important things (coffee with a friend, exercise, work tasks, chores), and then fill in the gaps as desired, either on paper or just let them be areas for spontaneity in your day.

Here’s a template you can download and use. >>>


Let’s go deeper!


We know…these are great tools, but there are so many aspects that aren’t covered here! Having a great time management system is awesome, but what about running small groups, picking the right events for your particular campus, setting work/life boundaries, or having effective outreach?

We’re confident that the three tools mentioned in this blog are an awesome and solid starting point for you.

But they aren’t the only tools. We want to help you grow your toolbox even more!

Campus Ministers often lack the training and support to really thrive in their positions. Seeing this need, we created First90 - a 12-week coaching program to help dive into every single topic mentioned in this blog. From prayer, self-knowledge, and time management, to planning your events, leading small groups, setting boundaries, and more, we’ve got you covered.

We want to walk with YOU and help you to deep dive into your ministry. Learn more about First90 here, and let us journey with you in your unique situation. 

We are praying for YOU and YOUR ministry.


Other Ways We Can Help You in Your Ministry


Newman Ministry exists to connect students with a Catholic community on campus so their Faith thrives in college and beyond. Here’s how we ensure high school seniors keep their faith in college and campus ministers are equipped to inspire lifelong disciples:


  1. High School Outreach, our flagship program, connects high school seniors to campus ministries at their college of choice before they get to campus. Update your campus ministry info and access your student list. Meet your new students . >>>

  2. First90 is our coach-led, cohort-based program made for campus ministers to set their ministry up for long-term success. If you’re a campus minister, we equip you to work more effectively and better focus your time and energy on ministering to your students. Learn More Today. >>>

  3. Campus Minister Small Groups provide a space for campus ministers to set and accomplish personal and professional goals alongside other campus ministers with a Newman Coach as the guide. Join a Newman Group Today. >>>

  4. Campus Minister Digital Community The Newman Campus Minister Community is the best place for you to network with peers and find inspiration for your ministry. Join The Cm Community Today. >>>

Recommended Articles:

Submit a Comment